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Plain Talk: What pardons tell us about two governors

Plain Talk: What pardons tell us about two governors

Scott Walker, Tony Evers square off in race for governor (copy)

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, left, and former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

A report this past week by WKOW-TV's Jennifer Kliese reminded me once again why I've always viewed former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's idea of governing with disdain.

Kliese told a heart-warming story of a Milwaukee man who received a pardon in 2019 from current Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. Doyle Sprewer had been convicted of a marijuana felony in 2003, served his sentence and paid his fines, but then was blocked from countless jobs.

Finally, a Milwaukee pastor, Rev. John McVicker, Sr., of Christ the King Baptist Church, took a chance on him and gave him a job at the church. That opened the door for him to become a minister and an active member of several community organizations.

His goal was to work in law enforcement, but the felony prevented him from doing so.

Thanks to Evers' pardon, he has now been hired as a probation and parole agent for the state and is on a path to obtain his dream job in law enforcement.

"Since he's been back, he's done everything possible to make his way in society, to navigate mainstream society and to be released of the shadow of something that he did yesterday," McVicker told Kliese.

"I just kept my nose clean, just did the right thing and refocused my attention back to God," Sprewer said. "You have a choice to either make the wrong or right decisions. But I am here to be hope to encourage people just make the right decision."

Sprewer is one of 74 people who, after turning their lives around since committing a felony, have received pardons from Evers.

Contrast that with Walker's years at the helm. He was the first governor in the state's history to stubbornly refuse to grant anyone — no matter the circumstances — a chance to get a fresh start on life.

I wrote several columns about one of them a few years ago. Eric Pizer, who had joined the Marines after 9/11 and had served two tours in Iraq, had been home in 2004 for only two days when he stepped in the middle of a fistfight between a friend and another man and wound up breaking the man's nose.

A capricious Grant County district attorney charged him with a felony for what should have been a misdemeanor. He was convicted, placed on two years of probation and ordered to pay $7,200 to fix the nose. It was his only brush with the law, but a costly one — because after completing the educational requirements to become a police officer, a job that seemed a perfect fit with his military combat experience, he discovered that a felony prevented him from carrying a gun. Hence, no chance at a law enforcement job.

He and others pleaded with Walker for a pardon, but to no avail. He was among the first four to be given one by Evers last October.

This was Walker's way of playing a tough guy, sort of like the fellow in the Oval Office for whom the ex-governor, who proclaims to be a devout Christian, is shilling today. He parlayed his power and that of a like-minded Legislature to destroy unions, demonize teachers and fight Obamacare.

And from what I can tell, he wants to come back and do it again.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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